MA History, 2015
From Aberdeen to Investment Management
Your Time at Aberdeen
Why did you choose to study at Aberdeen?
I visited the University on a particularly sunny open day and fell for the campus. The academic and sporting quality thankfully matched up to the enchantment of King's College.
Why did you choose your particular course?
When I left school I had no idea what I wanted to do or who I wanted to be. I was given some good advice to follow something I was interested in, making History a natural choice.
What did you most enjoy about your time at Aberdeen? Did you have any particularly memorable student experiences?
Lots. I met my now fiancée, Bridget, in my second year so that ought to count as a memorable one. During my Special Subject term, in my fourth year, the group worked with Art students at RGU to look at Aberdeen's history and how it can be represented; that was a good experience.
If you were involved in any clubs and societies as a student, what did you enjoy most about them and what benefit do you think they have for students?
I was fortunate enough to be Captain of the Golf Club and I would recommend any aspiring sportsperson to join a club in their chosen discipline as soon as they can. The competition is great, the quality is high, and you make a lot of lifelong friends in the process.
If talking to a group of prospective students, what advice would you give them to help them make the most of their time at the University of Aberdeen?
Get involved, join a sports club or society and meet new people. Academically, do the recommended readings - tutorials are more interesting if you have (speaking as someone for whom it took too long to realise this!).
Did you undertake any co-curricular activities while at Aberdeen, e.g. Aberdeen Internships, Career Mentoring, STAR Award?
I took part in the career mentoring programme and am still in touch with my mentor today.
Your Time After Aberdeen
What was the title of your first job after graduating from Aberdeen?
Trainee Investment Manager at Smith & Williamson Investment Management.
What did your first role involve?
Essentially being a dog's body for the senior partner in a stockbroking firm in Glasgow whilst I sat my professional qualifications; an excellent experience I wouldn't trade for the world.
What is your current job title?
Portfolio Manager at Waverton Investment Management.
What is your current role?
Managing capital markets investment portfolios for high and ultra-high net worth individuals.
Please briefly describe the journey from your first job after graduating to where you are now.
Coming into my fourth year at University, I was conscious I had done little in the way of getting myself a job upon graduation; I had not partaken in any internships and done next to no research into what jobs I could do. I started with a scatter gun approach, applying to be everything from a tobacconist to a civil servant and most things in between.
A brief meeting with a careers advisor and stint with a career mentor showed me that this was perhaps not the best way to achieve gainful employment. As I had chosen arts over a vocational programme, I looked to financial services in order to sit professional qualifications; a quick chat with an auditor put me off the accountancy route and I turned to investment management. The private client area appeared to suit as it drew on communication and relationship skills as well as numerical competency.
I was lucky enough to get a job with a major firm in Glasgow where I worked for one of the most notorious investment managers in Scotland. I stayed there for a few years, completing my qualifications and gaining some of the most meaningful (not all painless) experiences of my career to date. Latterly, I had been asked to lead on charity investment for the office.
Twists and turns in these things are inevitable and my role with charities took me to the London office, where I ended up moving permanently. Working in the City of London is quite the experience for a Scotsman from a small town in Fife and I was hooked fairly quickly; the academic, entrepreneurial and (almost) savagely commercial aspects to London can be very engaging.
Life turns again, however, and I was recruited to my current role at Waverton Investment Management where I work in a team looking after UK and international clients managing ~£1bn in assets. I'm still in London, albeit in St James's, where the suits are nicer, the lunches more expensive and the people more shocked to hear an accent.
Was your degree at Aberdeen essential for getting to where you are now? If so, in what way?
In a word, yes. I wouldn't have been allowed through the front door at my first employer without a good degree from a reputable institution. In terms of the subject, it is perhaps even more valuable; history seeps into everything we do - as I write, Russia is on the verge of invading Ukraine and markets are selling off at a rate of knots. Understanding, and engaging with, the history of what is going on in the world better equips one to deal with its present.
Additionally, communication is key. Working in financial services, one reads a great number of tedious, borderline aggressive emails from those who never had to write an essay. A History degree doesn't allow for that outcome.
One Top Tip
Pick a career path. I speak to a lot of people umming and ahhing about what they want to do; just pick one and if it doesn't work you can always change. At least you've been learning in the interim.